us-exceptionlsm0816The United States invented mass marketing and news media manipulation. The US has become very adept at controlling the worldwide narrative about each country and the United States’ place in it. Many US citizens have a worldview based on a distorted record created by a news media that pushes forth the ideal of American exceptionalism that ignores the true realities that other countries see around them. One of the greatest misconceptions about US citizens that I had to overcome is that it is not arrogance that US citizens display to the rest of the world, but rather a distorted world view.

Last week, I shared with you a geography lesson about why using “American” to refer to US citizens is improper. Most US citizens I have spoken to had no idea that “America” was a continent rather than the US. It is not their fault as they are a product of a distorted world view created by the leadership of the United States in order to be the world’s leader, or to create the illusion of American exceptionalism.

The run up to the Olympics this year focused on whether Brazil was ready and whether it was going to be a “safe” country to hold the Olympics in. The larger message being that a developing country, like Brazil, was ill-equipped to hold a world event like the Olympics. Along with that theme was the theme perpetuated by many of the athletes, from some of the richer countries, that Brazil was a third-world nation where toilets wouldn’t work and that crime would put them at risk.

The notion that a country, like Brazil, was so crime infested that the Olympic athletes would surely be the victims of crime was the news lead running up through the start of the Olympics. As you know by now, four US Olympic swimmers; Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte alleged that they were held at gun point and robbed of their belongings.

This was a lie playing up the notion that Latin American countries are crime infested and unworthy of US citizens.

Of course this made national and worldwide news. Until their story, the biggest scandal about the Brazil Olympics was the green water. Immediately, the robbery of four US swimmers became the example of the failures of developing countries like Brazil.

Except that it was all a lie gobbled up by the masses that assumed US athletes like Ryan Lochte are above reproach and wound never vandalize another person’s property.

The story by the four changed and the evidence pointed to a lie being told.

However, Ryan Lochte made a run for the border and left Brazil ahead of Brazilian authorities who wanted to ensure that the perpetrators of the robbery were held to account. As more evidence emerged, it became imperative that Brazil set the record straight and show that the robbery story is just another “American exceptionalism” gone awry.

Initially, and if the Brazilian authorities had not followed up on the story, it would have been just another Latin American country taking advantage of good ‘ole USA boys, the creme of the crop; or US exceptionalism.

The news media was too eager to showcase why Brazil, and other developing countries, are not ready for the world stage with the alleged robbery.

If this had happened in the United States, and it was four Mexicans who had alleged that they were robbed at gun point, the immediate questions from the US news media would have been, but why did the lead Mexican swimmer leave the country before reporting the details to the authorities. For that matter, the first question that would have been asked about the affair is why did the swimmers not report the crime to the proper authorities.

However, since this happened in Brazil, and the swimmers were US swimmers, the immediate assumption that was made was that the swimmers were robbed.

Even after conclusive evidence exposed the lie, Ryan Lochte tries to excuse his behavior as being drunk. Presented with clear evidence, Lochte refuses to accept responsibility and instead continues to argue that he was “extorted” out of money at gun point.

If US citizens truly believe that justice is blind and it should be allowed to work through its process, then they would gather up Ryan Lochte and help him board a flight to Brazil so that he can answer for his crimes.

But no, the general conversation is why does a US swimmer have to answer to foreign authorities?

I am glad that the Brazilian government has taken this seriously and is working to prove the obvious lie by the four US swimmers who believe that “American exceptionalism” means disrespecting the citizens of other countries, especially countries where the US attitude of superiority blinds people to believe that they are above common decency.

The only appropriate way to resolve this is for the US government to escort Ryan Lochte back to Brazil so that he can answer for his disrespect to Brazil, and its people.

I won’t hold my breath.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

9 replies on “USA Swimmers Prove American Exceptionalism Disconnect”

  1. First, several other athletes and officials were robbed and those robberies were reported. Lochte and the swimmers were extorted at at gunpoint. The only proven damage was the poster and the fact they urinated. Reporters could find no damage to the rest rooms nor is there a video showing that damage–when more money was in the offing gas station personnel may have embellished their stories–the police mentioned it took several interviews for them to discuss the details because they feared retribution from the swimmers. I think that retribution concerns proves there was extortion that night. There was also no fight on the video even though employee accounts said there was. In short, I think that story was embellished to justify the fact that they took $400 at gunpoint for a poster which was later rehung with no repairs. Lochte lied about the circumstances of the robbery and will pay for that lie the rest of his life. Brazil’s prosecution of that lie set the record straight plus shook down the swimmers remaining in the country for at least $11,800. Who knows what mordida was also paid. I don’t blame Lochte for running . Latin America isn’t known for having a fair justice system. But using this example to tear down American Exceptionism is petty. What drives that term is the fact that America steps up and provides money, aid and personnel when disasters occur around the world. We helped rebuild Europe and Japan after WWII. In short, as a country we have written checks for a lot of stuff other countries ignore. And yes, Brazil was a lousy country to host the Olympics in. Rowers rowed in water so polluted they had to sterilize their oars. The pools had to be drained because of the green water, the Zika virus was a concern and there were robberies. Without the Lochte story, there would have been little positive news for Brazil. I’m sure the folks in the favelas think it made a lot of sense to spend money on the Olympics rather than improving their infrastructure.

  2. Deviate from the ‘narrative” in Mexico and you end up dead like the 60 some journalists so far and counting.

  3. Martin
    Not trying to be rude but seems you detest America. The question has to be asked, with your some time out right hatred for this county, why do you stay here? Seems if it was all that bad like you try and project you would want to go some place else. Martin you make it sound at time like Mexico is paradise seems if that was the case and Mexico is so much superior you would want to live in that paradise. You may take offence but many of us can’t get passed the fact you hate this nation so much but you find no ethical or moral problems that you benefit from living,working and do business here . Martin cannot remember when you wrote a piece extolling what is great or exemplary about the USA in your mind.

  4. You connect this story with American Exceptionalism but the two are not related in the least. Please look up American Exceptionalism and Tocqueville.

    I’m not aware of anyone referring to Brazil as a third world county. It is a fact though that Brazil has major problems with government corruption and graft. The Brazilian president is currently being impeached. Combine this with the government’s proven inability to deal with the Zika virus, and you have well-founded questions regarding whether the Brazilian government was prepared to hold the Olympics.

  5. El mini-me de el trompas.

    Both have odd colored hair. Both are cowards; el trompas goes around insulting everybody and their madres while surrounded by a team of protectors, the mini-me high-tailed it to the land of “American Exceptionalism” as soon as the going got rough. Both have their apologists and enablers, because, well they are from that privileged class – male, white, and financially well-off.

    Dollars to donuts that had this vandalism been the action of black athletes, those same apologists for the 32 year old boy Lochte would be singing a different tune.

    These are just two grown “American Exceptionals”, el tropas and his mini-me, acting immaturely before the cameras of the world.

  6. The four American swimmers are absolutely wrong – no excuses for them! America is exceptional and if you don’t think so, please feel free to leave. Having said that, doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of idiots. Brazil is a Third World Country. If we are counting, I would include Mexico in that same category. Within the next 30-40 years the United States is headed in the same direction. But as it stands today, the United States is head and shoulders above any other country in every way that counts!

  7. 2016 Summer Olympics Medal Count
    USA — 121 (46 Gold)
    Mexico — 5 (0 Gold)
    I guess the USA isn’t exceptional — as long as you don’t compare it to anyone else.

  8. Didn’t you just write a piece about calling it “America”. And there you go with the “American” reference in the title. Get it straight.

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